Central Park And The Real World

Add another footnote — or maybe chapter — to the politically circuitous route being traveled by the Central Park redevelopment plan.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development turned down Tampa’s bid for a $20-million grant proposal to replace the decrepit public housing complex. Presumably, the government would have been more amenable to the application had it been jointly proposed by both the Tampa Housing Authority and a private-sector partner. Earlier this year the Hillsborough County Commission wouldn’t sign off on such an arrangement with the Civitas development company.

This much, however, is still known. Central Park is a slum and needs replacing. In its stead should go a planned community — not a public-housing island in a sea of dilapidation. The only way to make that happen is to involve private developers and, in this case, the creation of special taxing districts to pay for infrastructure improvements. It’s hardly without precedent in the county.

Moreover, the only way to induce such a partnership is to allow for profit. Even encourage it. It’s called incentive.

It’s also called the real world. One that the commission may yet be forced to inhabit.

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